Your manager was promoted, and now you’ve stepped into the position. A great move, right? Not for TechRepublic member Kobus, who was promoted recently but needs help dealing with a qualified coworker who also applied for the position.

How would you handle the predicament Kobus faces? You couldn’t pass up the opportunity for more responsibility and a salary increase, but you don’t want to damage personal and professional ties with your coworker. You may need his or her expertise to help in your new role.

Kobus was promoted over a coworker with a skill set as deep as Kobus’ own, albeit they come from different fields. Kobus’ expertise is in networking, while the coworker is a telecommunications specialist. However, the promotion placed Kobus in charge of the organization’s communication department.

“Recently I was involved with a project pertaining to both networking and telecommunication. I did my best to get to know as much as possible about telecommunication in the short time the project was running. The manager has resigned, and I was appointed to head the communication department, as well as a small part of the networking side,” said Kobus in a TechRepublic Technical Q&A discussion.

Kobus understands that the situation is delicate. Kobus’ knowledge of the technical nature of the telecommunication area is light, but Kobus is willing to learn more about the field.

“My problem is that the person working with communication will most certainly take exception to this. I admit that there is a lot for me to learn about telecommunication and the technology, but this is surely an opportunity I cannot pass,” said Kobus.

The real kicker is that the promotion has not yet been announced to the organization.

Kobus asked for advice from TechRepublic members who have been in the same tight spot.

“My question is: How should I approach this person? We get along well and could be regarded as friends. I know that he [had] high hopes of getting the position (especially with regards to his communication knowledge).”

What do you think?

Below is a sampling of the advice other members offered to Kobus. If you have additional advice or a different take on Kobus’ predicament, join the discussion or send us a note about it.

Member advice: Wait until it’s official
Some members said that Kobus’ first approach should be to do nothing until the promotion is announced to the organization.

“Once the announcement is made, sit down with this person and tell him you think highly of his telecommunications skills and will need to rely on him heavily in that area. Try to give him an accurate understanding [of] how he will fit into the organization with you as manager,” said TechRepublic member Wayne Mack.

The dynamics of the relationship between Kobus and the coworker will change, said member dutchee. “One thing you will have to deal with is the fact that from one day to the next, you are no longer equals.”

Member RealGem agreed. “Don’t break the news yourself. But as soon as the word is out officially, I would sit down with your friend and find out how he feels about it.”

Move carefully once the word is out
After Kobus’ promotion is official, the real work begins. Moving up is a professional reward, but it means working differently with peers who are now employees.

Members advised that Kobus should give his coworker some space and try not to explain why Kobus received the advancement.

“Do not make any references to his desire for the same job. That would seem too much like rubbing it in,” said Wayne Mack.

“Don’t try and explain it [the promotion]. Don’t try and justify yourself. You’ll only come across as lame or defensive, which is not the right way to move ahead,” offered RealGem.

Vincentc wrote that it’s important to remember that tasks associated with the new position should be Kobus’ priority. “Your position in this should not change; [you’re] still the same person. Remember the ability to lead or be a leader does not depend on knowing all the answers but knowing where to get them, and this friend would be a great asset to your team.”

“You have no control how anyone else will react to the announcement. What you can do, though, is define how you manage the organization,” added Wayne Mack. “Start out by honestly laying all of your cards on the table, and most people will accept you in your new position and go forward from there.”

Dutchee added, “Having been in a similar position myself, I can tell you what worked best for me, which was to continue work as normal, to show that I wouldn’t be asking [the team to do] things that I wouldn’t or couldn’t do. Once that was established, I could move on to do more of the managing part.”

Know what it’s like?

Have you been in a situation similar to Kobus’? How did you handle your relationship with a fellow employee who did not get the promotion you received? Drop us a line and tell us.